The quote in the above image was my tagline from when I owned my Pilates and Yoga Studio. It truly is my mission to share the message that both Yoga and Pilates are indeed for everybody, regardless of your age, body type, fitness level, and any injuries or medical conditions you may have.
I’m very passionate about what I do, so I am always talking to people about the benefits of Yoga and Pilates (as well as good nutrition and meditation). I’ve heard every excuse in the book too…”I’m not thin enough”, “I’m not flexible enough”, “I have _____ problem with _____”. I educate them on how they can make a Yoga or Pilates practice accessible to themselves, and how I can help.
If you are working with a certified and trained teacher, there are modifications and other ways we can help you to find an accessible and fulfilling practice. In fact I’ve worked with MANY different injuries and conditions, but I find a way to make the client feel safe and still get a good workout in. I have had clients recovering from breast reconstruction due to breast cancer, clients with MS, and clients with Cerebral Palsy. And one tough as nails client who was 92! And another (as you will see with Marianne below) had a total hip replacement.
In this day and age, there are very few “PERFECT” bodies. We are all “broken” in some way. I’ve personally found my Yoga and Pilates practices to be very healing not just physically but also mentally and emotionally.
All this had me thinking. I can preach the benefits of a regular practice, and give you an insight into my own practice, but does that help you? Hmmmm maybe, maybe not. A few weeks I had a small epiphany though. I can share some of my clients with you! What are they struggling with in terms of their bodies? What brought them to try Yoga or Pilates? What benefits have they seen from their practice? So without further ado…meet Marianne.
Marianne is one of my regular clients and also probably my biggest cheerleader! Marianne is an enthusiastic Proofreader for BJ’s Wholesale Club by day and a professional illustrator by night. She spent two years at Tufts University, another two at UMass Amherst and three years at the University of Michigan grad school of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Trained as a classical violinist, she moved on to perform in a bluegrass band and eventually wound up on stage singing, acting and dancing in Gilbert and Sullivan and Broadway musicals. She has illustrated three books and has been drawing since the age of four. You can visit her Facebook page, Marianne Orlando Illustrations: https://www.facebook.com/moillustrations/
What brought you to try a Yoga or Pilates class?
I happen to have an artificial hip, and I’d always wanted to try yoga, but was afraid my range of motion would be too limited for the poses. Turns out I was wrong. I went to an orthopedic specialist to find out if it’d be OK to do yoga, and she said, “That’s about the best thing you could do for yourself.” That was good news because I like to be active. Back in the day, I had a boss who encouraged me to take up running, and I used to run 3 miles a day on my (extended) lunch hour. So originally, I went to yoga because my boss went and I figured it would be a good use of my lunch hour. So I have to thank her for that tip.
After I’d been doing yoga for 3 years with great benefits, I decided to add Pilates. I’ve been doing that for a year now and I can see real improvement.
What are some of the benefits you’ve found from your Yoga and Pilates practice?
Well, I sleep a lot better for one thing. I don’t get as stressed as I used to at other jobs. Can’t say I have any backaches, and I used to have a really bad back. I’ve also become more flexible (After all, I am 62 and I can lean over and touch my hands flat on the floor before me, and that’s a great benefit), and with the Pilates I’ve gained a lot of strength in my core. I also find my ability to focus on my work during the day is greatly enhanced. Yoga sweeps away any tension you might have had during the morning, and when you get back to your desk, it’s with a fresh, new outlook. As a side benefit, it’s much easier to manage my weight because I’m more aware of my body and what kind of foods I put into it. So I would say yoga has made me more focused and relaxed, and Pilates has made me stronger. And both yoga and Pilates help me with my balance.
How would you describe Pilates and Yoga to a friend or coworker who wasn’t familiar with them?
Yoga is a series of poses that are held for different lengths of time that make you more limber and flexible than when you started. You do the poses slowly and you can feel your joints and muscles loosening up. There is a pose called “Child’s Pose” that is kind of uncomfortable when you first do it, but by the time a couple of poses and a few minutes go by, you do it again and you can really relax into it. That’s a great feeling. And the music is soothing and contemplative – the entire experience is a nice break from the day that clears your head.
Pilates is more fast-paced than yoga: You’re doing quick, athletic routines that work from the abdominal muscles or “core”. The exercises are also harder to do. But the time goes by much quicker than in yoga.
What do you like most about Pilates and Yoga?
I like the bounce I have in my step afterwards, carrying my yoga mat under my arm while I’m walking . It makes me happy and I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.
The best part about yoga *and* Pilates is that with Chris as the teacher you don’t have to do the poses or exercises perfectly or be a size 2. He will tailor the exercises to what you can physically do, which is especially helpful when you have an artificial hip or any other kind of limitation.
Last, but not least, I treasure the friendships I’ve made with my fellow students and my teacher Christopher. Students come and go, but I’ve always enjoyed their company. Waiting for yoga to begin we often talk about movies to see, the latest video on Facebook, good books to read. But when it’s time for class to start, Chris is all business. And people who take yoga tend to be upbeat and positive, which puts a great spin on my day.